Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Sonia unhappy with blow to RTI?

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 22, 2006

Sonia unhappy with blow to RTI?

HT Correspondent

New Delhi, July 22, 2006


The controversial amendment to the Right to Information Act has virtually taken the heart out of Sonia Gandhi’s pet project of Right to Information Act.

Unlike the case of FTAs, when Sonia had openly come out against it by writing to the PM on the issue, this time there is no word from 10 Janpath so far to indicate what the Congress president feels about the amendment that restricts access to file notings.

But privately several Congress leaders admit that the Act that Sonia has often hailed as historic while urging everyone to make use of it to keep the administration, down the line, on its toes, virtually lies crippled — a fact that she cannot be happy about, they say.

Officially, the party walked the tightrope when asked whether it supported the Centre’s move. “There is no question of our endorsing or not endorsing. It is a government decision and we are not in a position to dissent from that so long as the heart and soul of the Act is preserved,” spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.

The “heart and soul,” in his view, was that file notings dealing with social projects and development remained in the purview of RTI Act even after the amendment.

Yet at the same time, there was an effort to distance the party from the government’s stand was evident.

Asked whether the Congress was party to a decision, he said, “I don’t think it is a Congress decision in any manner. It is a collective coalition government and the government takes the decision.”


One Response to “Sonia unhappy with blow to RTI?”

  1. P.K. Aditya, Chandigarh said

    “Sonia unhappy with blow to RTI ?”

    Shrimati Gandhi is rightly concerned because of her direct association with matters of RTI, duly deliberated by the National Advisory Council, under her Chairmanship. As Congress President she could not be happy to see one of the prominent achievements of her party, to see the Act through, as lost. The statement that “coalition compulsions” have any role in this turning-back, would not be correct. It is merely the executive overpowering the legislature, through its mouth-piece, the Department of Personnel and Training (DOPT), which had even before the RTI Act came into full force on October 12, 2005, announced on the website of the Personnel Ministry that ‘information’ as defined under sec.2(f) of the RTI Act “does not include file notings”. Not only this. It is for any one to see that the Prime Minister had instructed the DOPT, as mentioned in the December 1, 2005 press-release, to “incorporate certain changes in the Rules under the Right to Information Act, 2005 in consultation with the Ministry of Justice”. The changes clearly pertain to disclosure of file notings under the Right to Information Act, whereby “substantive file notings on plans, schemes, programmes and projects of the Government, that relate to development and social issues may be disclosed, except those protected by the exemption clauses u/s 8(1) (a) to (j) of the Act. That the PM wanted discloure in certain cases does not at all mean that he intended en masse exclusion of all type of notings to continue, as done by the DOPT.

    That heart and soul of the Act remains preserved is fartest from truth. File-noting by the very nature of it is heart of a file. Without it the file itself is dead. No head or tail can be made of documents in the file.

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